Being the goodie two-shoes student that I am, I’m reading ahead in the 2006 edition of Goroll’s Primary Care Medicine, learning about screening tests, and I see these two listings (my emphasis):
Condition: Susceptibility to hepatitis B virus. Risk factors: Male homosexual, exposure, occupation (health care worker), pregnany.
Condition: Syphilis. Risk factors: Male homosexual, other sexually transmitted disease, pregnany.
I looked at some of the other entries to see if I was being overly sensitive. They list a risk factor for sickle cell disease as “African American.” And that’s true, to some extent–it’s more likely that people of African descent will have the sickle cell mutations in their genes.
But this “male homosexual” bullshit is entirely different. It’s not like the “male homosexual” has some sort of genetic makeup or inherent compromised state that makes him more likely to contract hepatitis or syphilis. So what is it? Is it the HIV+ male homosexual? If so, why not just say HIV+? Is it the male homosexual who has unprotected sex? Why not say all people who have unprotected sex? Isn’t “exposure” to Hepatitis B a requirement for infection, as well as a risk factor? It’s not like us male homosexuals somehow grow Hepatitis B inherently, like some people of African descent make sickled red blood cells.
I’ll admit medicine (and society) is getting better with acceptance of all people that are different, but it’s these little remnants of inherent pathology or deviance that just piss me off to no end.
Maybe I’ll email Dr. Goroll and see what he says.
Update: Dr. Goroll emailed back in a day with a very kind response, and forwarded my question (stated a little more gracefully in the email) to the author of the chapter. He also noted the book is constantly being updated and corrected in OVID.com and eScholar.